Tag Archives: seafood

Shrimp and grits with a smoky, spicy twist

Shrimp and grits with a smoky, spicy twist

 

There’s nothing like a ending a weekend with an indulgent brunch, be it sweet French toast, savory quiche, or a simple yet hearty meal of scrambled eggs and bacon (and mimosas, of course). A Southern gal by birth, I have to say my all-time favorite go-to for brunch is shrimp and grits. I’ll take them any which way you serve ’em — with a creamy gravy, Creole-style or even in casserole form — and at any time of the day.

Living deep in the heart of Texas, where breakfast tacos and scrambled egg migas reign supreme, I rarely see this dish on restaurant menus, so I end up having to make it myself. If you’ve read any of my recipes, you know that I have a penchant for taking standard dishes and putting my own spin on them. So when I recently had a craving for shrimp and grits, I wanted to include another favorite ingredient of mine: barbecue sauce. (Trust me, it works.)

Hence, I ended up with this smoky, spicy and slightly sweet Texas twist on shrimp and grits. The sweet and spicy barbecue sauce — in this case, Stubb’s Sweet Heat — adds an added layer of flavor that takes the dish to the next level, and it’s further enhanced by the addition of the smoked cheese, Serrano pepper and smoked paprika. For an added Texas influence, replace the shrimp with smoked brisket or pulled pork. And if you’re feeling extra ambitious, you can always make a batch of your own ’cue sauce.

So the next time you’re in a brunching mood — whether it be noon on Sunday or 7 p.m. on a Tuesday — whip up this satisfying, simple-to-prepare dish. It’s written for two but can easily be multiplied to feed 20, and you may want to make extra because I guarantee you’ll want a second helping.
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Bi-curious: ‘BLTT’ bivalves in white wine broth

Bi-curious: ‘BLTT’ bivalves in white wine broth


It’s Friday night and you’re: a) wanting to cook up something special for your significant other, b) having friends over and need to whip up something that’s easy to prepare but looks impressive, or c) will be staying in solo with your PJs and your DVR and need something quick and tasty that doesn’t involve greasy takeout.

The dinner solution for all scenarios: Bacon, lemon-thyme and tomato bivalves. It’s a loose interpretation of the BLT — mussels and clams steamed in a broth of white wine, bacon, onions, garlic and lemon-thyme (I needed an ingredient starting with L, and I’m not crazy about leeks) and finished simply with fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of parsley. Oh, and of course there has to be crusty bread served alongside to soak up that tasty broth. Best of all, it’s done in a jiffy and only requires one pan to cook.

Obviously, this isn’t the most prim and proper dish to be eating in front of strangers whom you’d like to impress, which is why I recommend eating it with people who will forgive you for using your fingers and making loud slurping noises (or alone so you can have it all to yourself).

Some quick bivalve purchasing tips: When buying clams and mussels in the seafood section, they’ll typically sort through your bivalves before handing them over to make sure they’re all closed. (Closed bivalves are still alive — which is a good thing.) If you’re picking them yourself or have just thawed a frozen pack, discard any that are open. To double check, tap them on the side of your counter — if they close, keep ‘em; if they remain open, chuck ‘em. Eating dead mussels could potentially result in food poisoning. Reversely, you’ll want to discard any that don’t open after they’ve been cooked, as they’re either really stubborn or dead.

As for cleaning them, give them a good rinse before throwing them in the pot and “debeard” the mussels. No, they’re not ZZ Top wannabes, the “beard” is actually a byssal thread that mussels use to cling to surfaces in the water.
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Top Chef Podcast – All-Stars Ep. 11: Engulfed in deceit

Top Chef Podcast – All-Stars Ep. 11: Engulfed in deceit

top_chef_logo_lgThere was a whole lot of shadiness going on in last night’s episode Top Chef All-Stars. Apparently, Jersey Mike is even more devious than we’d expected and will stop at nothing to claw his way to the top. Needless to say, I was not amused with his recipe-stealing antics last night. Instead of “Jersey Mike”, we should start calling him “Judas Mike”.

I digress.

Paula Deen started out this episode preaching about the joys of deep-frying and challenging the chefs to create their own deep-fried masterpieces. Again, we saw Blais using liquid nitro. Not a “gimmick” you say, Blais? C’mon, we know you’ve got so many more tricks up your sleeve you could be using instead!

Anyway, Judas took the win with Blais’ his fried chicken oysters in oyster gravy dish. Antonia’s fried avocado and shrimp “salad” would have won, but she had a brain fart and forgot to plate up two portions. I was just surprised that no one did anything with copious amounts of butter.
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Brunch on this: Southwestern-style Shrimp and Grits

Brunch on this: Southwestern-style Shrimp and Grits

Brunch is my favorite part of the weekend — I love making it and I especially love eating it (also because it gives me an excuse to drink a Bloody Mary before noon). Combining two meals into one is a genius idea because you can have your breakfast-type items (eggs, waffles, etc.) and more substantial lunch- or dinner-type dishes.

I’m always trying out fun new places for brunch or coming up with recipes for it. This brunch dish is one I came up with that combines two of my favorite cuisines: Southern and Southwestern. Shrimp and grits are a staple dish of the coastal South, and flavors like ancho and poblano are hallmarks of Southwestern cuisine.

The recipes for this dish require a little time and effort but are definitely worth the end result! I suggest serving it with sauteed spinach or collard greens to give some nice green color to the dish — I like to spike my greens with tequila while they’re cooking for a Southwestern/Mexican twist.
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